Jun 27, 2013

TV Recap: Family Tree - "Civil War"

Family Tree, Civil War, Cosplay, Accuracy
Left to right: Matt Griesser and Chris O'Dowd
Every Thursday, join us as we join Chris O'Dowd in the Christopher Guest show Family Tree as he discovers just how bizarre his family can get. With the king of mockumentaries finally entering the TV world, we all must wonder how he'll manage to adapt to a universe that has been getting rich off his influence for over a decade. Still, is Guest's introduction to the TV universe one worthy of excitement? Follow us every week as we look at the HBO show and recount the highs and lows, including favorite family members, Monkey's best moments, and if Guest is really the best.

Civil War, HBO, Family Tree

Plot: Tom (Chris O'Dowd) has discovered that his grandfather fought in the Civil War, though evidence argues that it was for both sides. To honor him, he joins a reenactment.

Family Tree, HBO, Civil War, Cosplay
Left to right: Christopher Guest and Maria Blasucci
Family Member of the Week: Dave (Christopher Guest)
This wasn't really a strong week for Chadwick family members. The episode was more into having Tom discover more of the Southern California lifestyle and eventually dump him into a Civil War reenactment. Still, in the opening scene that establishes the episode's plot, we get a round table of thoughts on why this relative would be dressed as both a Northern and Southern soldier. Leave it to Dave to decide that since he isn't a uniform expert, the hands give everything away. He is very much an insecure person, which explains everything. Except it doesn't. Dave is the character that creeps up in scenes and provides the biggest laugh when no one is looking.

Monkey, London, Family Tree, HBO, Christopher Guest
Nina Conti
Monkey Moment: This was yet another episode where Bea (Nina Conti) and Monkey are just used as exposition and background noise. However, the set-up makes it more excellent. In a reenactment that requires attention to detail, Tom answers a cell phone while he lies dead on the ground. He doesn't care and due to the loud noises of the reenactment, Bea is unable to hear Tom. It doesn't provide many memorable moments, but it does establish that along with Pete (Tom Bennett), she is coming to visit him. This will hopefully juice up her role beyond these two minute bits that have been forcefully put into the episodes the past few weeks.

Fighting Lincolns, HBO, Family Tree, Civil War,
Left to right: Ben Giroux and Mark Harelik
Non-Relative of the Week: The Fighting Lincolns (Ben Giroux and Mark Harelik)
There were a lot of memorable gags involving the Civil War authenticity. Still, for the quickest, most powerful punch in the entire episode, we much turn to the characters that were in the episode the shortest amount of time. A tall Lincoln and a short Lincoln argue about who gets to stay at the event, angry in a territorial manner. Watching the two slowly evolve into a parking lot shove and punch, it quickly escalates to a pride issue that is amazingly ridiculous and worthy of a mention.

HBO, Family Tree, Cat, Civil War, Christopher Guest

Overall: 3 out of 5
There isn't anything necessarily wrong with the episode. The Civil War routine had plenty of memorable gags. However, within the Christopher Guest realm of jokes, it did feel a little scattered out. This was one where it seemed like it was created to give everyone a break from the more subtle jokes. Still, the cannons setting off car alarms and three legged dogs are all small features that make me glad that this show went to California. Even if the reenactment isn't exactly as stellar as the build-up, it is still great to see Tom dressed up in a ridiculous outfit and wearing sunglasses to look out of place. At very least, this episode could get a pass on the radical cultural differences. Even then, the show's ridiculous family history has met its match. The both sides fighter for the Civil War turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment. However, it got Tom to bond with a cat, so there's some pros. Cannot wait to see if having Pete and Bea out west will capture more energy.

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